Most people know Fred Phelps as the face of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church. To say that the Westboro Baptist Church is anti-gay is an understatement. That’s like saying Nazi’s disfavor Jews. Fred Phelps, through his Westboro Baptist Church, spent over a decade fighting against homosexuality. But what most people don’t know is that Fred Phelps was a life long supporter of the Democratic party and that he was a very successful civil rights attorney. As an attorney he fought vigorously for the rights of blacks, immigrants, women, etc.
How did this man change from a progressive liberal who fought to give rights to the disenfranchised into being the most hated right wing religious nut in the country? My theory, er… hypothesis, is that he didn’t change. Maybe to ensure the rights of gays and lesbians he created an opposition to those rights that no sane person could support.
Think about it, he went out of his ways to piss people off. Even protesting at military funerals, for no apparent reason. Liberals hated him. Conservatives avoided him. It’s almost as if his entire campaign was specifically designed to make the LGBT movement appear sane and rational.
Now I’m not saying everyone in his church knew what he was up to. And have I no doubt that some less than sane people signed up for his church and genuinely believed his fake message.
But I’m leaning towards not believing that Phelps was the evil man he presented himself to be. I’m leaning towards the belief that he made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that a disenfranchised group had the same rights as everyone else. I have no way of proving my theory. But based upon the evidence, it’s the only thing that makes sense.
I keep hearing stories about Walmart refusing to hire enough employees to keep some of their stores fully stocked. According to the complaints, Walmart has the merchandise in stock, in the backroom, but there are simply no employees to take it out onto the sales floor and stock it.
Allegedly Walmart is doing this to save money. But that makes no fucking sense at all. I used to work at a supermarket and the number one rule was, “Nothing sells out of the backroom!” That was drilled into every employees’ head. Restock before the floor is out of stock and never let the floor run out. And if by some bizarre chance or customer rush, if something is out of stock on the floor, then stop whatever the fuck you’re doing and restock!!!
In other words, nothing is more important than getting the product on the sales floor.
But here’s Walmart intentionally refusing to take sales to save money on hiring employees. Taken to its extreme, Walmart would be an empty warehouse with greeters. Exactly how in the fuck is that supposed to make money? To put it another way, hasn’t anyone at Walmart heard the expression you have to spend money to make money?!
So what is Walmart’s deal? I came up with some theories.
First, Walmart’s profit margins are so low for some products it actually costs more to stock the product than they make from selling it. If that’s true, it does make sense not to stock. However, what would make even more sense would be to fucking raise prices to make these products profitable to actually sell. Walmart sets its own prices, why would it intentionally set prices so low it’s not worth even selling the products?!
Are these missing products “loss leaders”? Products that are intentionally priced below profit to get people in the store. But that doesn’t make any sense either, because buying loss leaders to get people in your store and then not stocking them does not get anyone in your store. It defeats the entire purpose of loss leaders. Can the powers that be at Walmart be that stupid?!
Could it be from a draconian bureaucracy? Maybe the upper echelons of Walmart corporate have decided that local stores have to get a better handle on their wages. According to the article linked above, stockers earn more money at Walmart than other associates. So maybe local managers are eliminating stockers to stay in compliance. Eventually corporate will be more concerned with actual sales numbers and the directive against employees will be relaxed. That appears to be happening now, according to the article I linked above.
Speaking of stockers earning more money… maybe Walmart wants to eliminate that wage disparity without causing a ruckus. So they’re reducing the population of stockers so they’ll be less people to bitch about either having their wages reduced or not receiving a raise. Then once the wages are reduced (or not raised) and the disparity is gone, Walmart will start hiring stockers again. This would obviously be a long term plan, because in the short term it makes no sense.
The only possible plan that makes any sense at all is the last one. So I’ll keep my ears open to see if Walmart decides to lower wages for stockers. But I doubt it. To paraphrase, never attribute to complex logic that which can be explained by simple stupidity.
I’m going to go with a simple answer: Short term greed. Someone at Walmart corporate decided that wages were rising and were slightly impacting short term profits. So s/he did a very stupid thing. That someone directed the reduction of employees without considering the consequences. Because of the directive local managers eliminated the stockers, because they earned the most. And because of that Walmart stores were stuck with stock it refused to sell.
Feminists in Portland, Maine staged a topless protest to bring attention to what they claim is a double standard when it comes to the public display of upper torsos. I should point out that it is not illegal for women to go topless in Maine. So I’m not entirely sure what they were protesting. What exactly did they hope to achieve? I have no idea.
But they were “surprised” and “upset” that men came and took pictures of their topless breasts. Despite making a public spectacle of themselves, they were upset that men were noticing and taking pictures of it.
Sure, I agree an ideal world be one where men and women were treated perfectly equally and men didn’t obsess over boobs. But feminists have to recognize that we do live in a world where some men (and even some women) are obsessed with boobs.
By protesting, the feminists have basically disproved their own point. They want to be treated the same, but are surprised and upset when they are treated the same. They want to walk around topless in public, as the law allows, but they want to be treated differently because they don’t want men actually noticing them. It’s perfectly legal to take pictures of men who make a spectacle of themselves in public. But women, they’re special. We need to make an exception to promote equality.
That’s the message they’re sending. And if they truly want equality, it’s the wrong message. If there is nothing “wrong” with their boobs in public, then there’s nothing wrong with men taking pictures of them. And by feminists arguing that there is a difference when it pertains to women, they’re arguing against equality.
Update: I’ve immediately updated this post because I realized exactly what someone is going to say in response:
“It’s not about feminism or equal rights, it’s about treating people with respect. And it’s disrespectful to take pictures of women’s boobs against their will.”
And that only proves my point. Feminists demand “respect,” but they demand a different respect from men.
Right now it’s legally and morally acceptable to take pictures of people who make spectacles of themselves in public. But feminists want to change the notion of respect and apply it only to themselves. They want to be treated equally, but then demand exceptions to that equal treatment. That’s not equality.
Northern midwesterners are laughing at the idiot drivers in Atlanta. Three inches of snow and the entire city shuts down. Drivers would run out of gas and abandon their cars and walk home. Schools could not get their kids home. God they’re idiots. That would never happen up here in the north. We know how to drive.
But us northerners don’t really understand what happened. The problem was not actually the snow and ice. The problem was Atlanta’s inherent traffic problem. The snow and ice were merely an exacerbation… a catalyst… of the traffic problem.
Other than Chicago, midwesterners rarely have to deal with traffic. And I’m not talking about a five minute delay to work because of rubber-necking. I’m talking about institutionally ingrained traffic.
I never lived in Atlanta, which is famous for its insidious traffic. But I did live in Maryland and had to deal with the Baltimore and Washington DC beltways on a regular basis. It was the first time I ever truly knew what traffic was.
If I drove to school on a Sunday, when there was no traffic, I could get there in 20 minutes. However, during the week, the exact same drive could take an hour and a half…or longer, depending on when I made the attempt. And this happens every single morning and every single evening. Sitting in traffic and waiting is just a part of driving. You plan for it. You plan around it. But, eventually you get used to it.
So here’s what happened the Tuesday of the snow dusting in Atlanta. Everyone attempted to go home at the exact same time. So think about a 20 minute drive, which takes an hour and a half because of traffic, and then multiply that traffic exponentially so that nearly everyone is on the road at the same time.
Even if there was no snow or ice, the city would have shut down under that circumstance. Cars would have run out of gas. Cars would have been abandoned. People would have started walking. And plenty of kids never would have made it home. Without a single flake of snow falling!
That’s what I mean when I say the snow merely exacerbated the problem. The traffic problem is there. It’s always there. The snow just pushed everyone to leave at the same time. That caused more gridlock. Which caused the city to shut down.
What I’m saying is that if you were visiting Atlanta the day of the storm, you and your 4×4 truck would have been stuck in traffic, just like everyone else.
Update – 2/1/14:
Here’s a pretty good article on Slate explaining why Atlanta’s traffic problems are so screwed up.
Recently a Congressman by the name Michael Grimm threatened to attack a reporter for daring to ask questions about his personal campaign finances rather than softball questions about the event he attended.
Most people talking about the incident are shocked that a US Congressmen, and former FBI agent, could do such a horrible thing. To me, that’s not the shocking thing. The shocking thing is that this incident fully demonstrates how we no longer have a free press.
Here’s Grimm’s first explanation, rather than apology.
I was doing NY1 a favor by rushing to do their interview first in lieu of several other requests. The reporter knew that I was in a hurry and was only there to comment on the State of the Union, but insisted on taking a disrespectful and cheap shot at the end of the interview, because I did not have time to speak off-topic. I verbally took the reporter to task and told him off, because I expect a certain level of professionalism and respect, especially when I go out of my way to do that reporter a favor. I doubt that I am the first Member of Congress to tell off a reporter, and I am sure I won’t be the last.
To Grimm, and others in politics, it’s unprofessional and disrespectful for a reporter to ask real questions. A “professional” reporter should politely ask softball questions so as not to embarrass the politician. That’s the way the system is supposed to work, for Grimm and others. And that’s why Grimm got so pissed. Because the reporter didn’t follow the rules.
And that’s much scarier to me than a politician threatening someone. The fact that our entire “free press,” which is supposed to be watching out for us, getting real stories, and getting to the truth, is barred from asking questions about real stories or the truth. That’s fucking scary.
Essentially, the entire Fourth Estate is nothing more than a press agent for the rich and powerful. The rich and powerful have messages they want to get out and facts they need buried. Journalism’s job is to report those messages and bury those facts. It’s all neat and tidy. The rich and powerful are free to do whatever they want. And the press get access, meaningless access, but access, nonetheless. And any reporter that dares to ask real questions is painted as rude and unprofessional and is not to be trusted.
Update: United States Senator from Kentucky Mitchell McConnell recently called the police to keep journalist Joe Sonka from asking questions at a press conference. While the police did come, Sonka was not arrested and was trying to negotiate entry into the conference. He asked the Senator why “he was so afraid to have me ask a question.” The Senator replied, “Joe! I’m being a gentleman here.”
I’ll quote what happened next from Sonka:
When I replied by asking him how threatening me with arrest for covering a press conference with plenty of room is being a “gentleman,” he cut me off and said, “Joe! You’re not going in there,” and walked away.
Think about McConnell’s statement. In the Senator’s twisted mind, not having a journalist arrested and requiring him to not ask any questions at a press conference is being a “gentlemen.”
That fits in perfectly from the situation from above. It’s ungentlemanly for journalists to actually do their jobs. To ask questions and get to the truth regarding things that actually matter. If you do such things, you should be arrested for the crime of being ungentlemanly.
What this is, is an old boys’ network. Everyone on the inside knows it’s a scam. But it’s impolite to talk about it being a scam. Actually, it’s more than impolite, according to McConnell it’s criminal.
Rickenbacker guitars. From the the Beatles, the Byrds, to the Bangles, they were awesome. All you needed was a Rickenbacker guitar, a Vox amp, and some catchy ass songs. And the money would just pour in. Those were the days.
I’m in the market to buy a Vox amp (either a AC15C1-PL or maybe a AC30C2-PL, depending how much I can get for some trades) so I immediately thought about getting a Rick, too.
I’ve had so many guitars over the decades. Mostly Fenders, MIM Teles and Strats. I’ve had some really nice ones, too. An American made ’68 Strat and ’74 Fender Telecaster Deluxe. But I’ve never even come close to owning, or even playing, a Rickenbacker. A friend had one and it was so precious and cost so much, he would not even let me play it. Not that I wanted to. I didn’t want to even risk scratching it. Ricks were fucking special.
But now that I’m an adult and have a “real” job I thought, I should treat myself to a Rickenbacker. But it ain’t happening. They’re not priced to sell. Even a used low-end Rick will cost you over a grand.
In a way that might seem awesome. Both Gibson and Fender have “sold out” by selling cheap knock offs. Both Gibson and Fender have their high end American made stuff. The next lower level is their Mexican and Japanese made stuff. Then their lowest level is their respective Epiphone and Squire brands. So it might seem cool that Rickenbacker refuses to buckle on quality and continues to only make the best.
But the downside is that the high prices keep Rickenbackers out of the hands of the youngest musicians. Young musicians have plenty of options to buy Gibson and Fender guitars. They’ll take the Strat, Tele, or Les Paul sound and make it their own. As they get better and more successful they can upgrade the electronics or just get better guitars all together. But, they’re gonna be stuck with either the Fender or Gibson mindset.
The world has lost generations of young guitar players who could have bought Ricks and innovated, but could not afford to. E.g., a 16 year old kid who has never heard of the Byrds, but buys a Rick from a pawnshop because he liked the sound. What new styles of music would he have developed? What new genres have been lost? The only people who use can afford to use Ricks are basically retro artists. Tom Petty, the Bangles, REM and others, are just doing modernized versions of what the Byrds and other 60s acts started.
Rickenbacker’s high prices have essentially trapped their guitars and unique sound into a time capsule. Adored on their pedestals, but static in use. And I find that sad.
It’s interesting to think about why some Christians feel a need to convert to Islam, and then adopt an extremeist and violent view of it. People such as Colleen LaRose, aka, Jihad Jane, Adam Pearlman, aka, Azzam the American, and Samantha Lewthwaite, aka, the White Widow, to name a few.
Such a conversion is especially perplexing to Atheists, as we tend to think that following a religion is some sort of cultural affliction.
For example, when you’re born into a culture where blood types dictate your future, where electric fans can kill you, and liberty is more important than saving lives, you tend to believe such things yourself.
Religion is no different, we think. When all your family and friends follow the same religion, and those who don’t are ostracized and are considered “black sheep,” you’ll tend to go with the flow and accept those religious concepts as the truth.
But I think religion is more than that. For some, it’s primal need. And it’s that primal need that causes some people to change religions. Even to a more violent faith.
The one commonality all three converters listed above had was a desire for certainty. They were all raised Christian, but all in a vague way. For example, Colleen LaRose was raped by her biological father as a child. That’s certainly not very Christian.
Adam Pearlman’s family consisted of Christians, Jews, and atheists. While the family lived outside of contemporary society in what appears to be a communal farm, there was no real dogma to follow. Like plenty of other kids at the time, Adam started getting into Death Metal and rebelling. But it’s hard to rebel against a hippie lifestyle. You can only do that by imposing order on yourself.
Samantha Lewthwaite came from a broken family, but found solace in the structure of local Muslim families, who she tended to hang out with. Such structure gave Samantha the comfort she apparently needed.
When Christians talk about the growth of Islam, they tend to think of it in terms of birth rates. That Muslims are having more kids than Christians. But I think that as Christianity declines, both through declining birth rates and growing secularism, we’ll have to consider the large number of westerners who will convert to Islam.
Some people need something to believe in. And a quasi spiritual/secular system will not be enough. They’ll need rules, and the rules of society are not enough because such rules are flexible. They need absolute morality, because without it, they won’t know how to act.
Knowing they’re doing the “right” thing, even when they’re blowing up innocent people, makes them feel safe and gives their lives meaning. As Christianity declines, such people will still be with us. Let’s hope they don’t end up against us.
As fans of Breaking Bad know, the series ended, in part, with Saul Goodman heading off to Nebraska to assume a new identity and manage a Cinnabon. But instead of showing us that life, the actor who plays Saul, Bob Odenkirk, has signed up to do a prequel television series. So we’re gonna learn about Saul’s past, not about his future. As I’ll explain below, I think that’s gonna be a lot more interesting.
Anyway, back to Saul’s Nebraska adventure. I wonder whether Saul’s moving to Nebraska to assume a new identity was his first time at assuming a new identity, and more importantly, whether he’s actually even an attorney. My guess is that it’s not his first time and that he’s not actually an attorney.
First, his real name is not Goodman. As fans of the show know, he’s not Jewish but is actually Irish, and his last name is McGill.
So at one time he used the name Saul McGill. He did not use it in college. As fans might remember, he graduated from University of American Samoa.
But that raises more questions. First, if his name was Saul McGill, when did he change it? In other words, did he change it before attending the University of Samoa? Or did he simply assume the identify of someone who graduated from the University of Samoa with the name Saul Goodman.
The next issue is that the University of Samoa is not a law school. It appears to be a liberal arts school. So why didn’t Saul have his law school diploma displayed in his office?
According to an interview with actor Bob Odenkirk with Rolling Stone magazine, Saul did not go to law school:
How much backstory did you create on Saul? Did he go to a good law school? Did he make law review?
No, he went to the University of American Samoa ? the diploma is on the wall of his office. He barely passed the bar.
So Saul did not go to law school, but he did pass the bar. I know of no state in our union that allows people to take the bar without first going through law school. So if Saul did not go to law school, the only way he could have taken the exam would have been by faking it or cheating somehow, e.g., assuming someone else’s identity.
Let’s recap. He was probably born Saul McGill. At some point he changed his name or assumed the identify of a Saul Goodman. Because it would have been highly coincidental for Saul to change his name to Goodman to attend the University of Samoa, and then assume the identify of some law school graduate with the exact same name, I don’t think it happened that way.
It makes more sense if Saul wanted to be an attorney, for him to work backwards. In other words, Saul must have found someone who graduated from a law school, but then who died or moved out of the country or decided to not take the exam. Saul must have assumed that guy’s identify first.
He then worked backwards to “get” an undergrad degree. It’s unlikely Saul would have actually went to a University because by then he was already a licensed attorney. So it would make more sense to assume he didn’t go to any undergrad university. Which is why Saul used a “foreign” university. Because then you don’t deal with circumstances with meeting people who attended the same time you did or who knew people who attended the same time you did. It would also make it harder for anyone to verify Saul’s attendance, because they’d have to contact a foreign university. And even if someone did such an investigation, the fact that it’s a foreign country means that such files proving his attendance were probably lost.
And I’ll get one more bit out of the way. Saul seemingly has no friends or family. In other words, when he’s going to Nebraska, there is seemingly no one to say goodbye to. Even at the top of his legal game, he’s a ghost who can pack up with no emotional or human baggage. To me that proves that done it before. Because he had already lost his friends and family the first time.
So my prediction is that the prequel will not be a boring law show with Saul Goodman protecting the rights of criminals week after week. My prediction is that the show will explain Saul’s mysterious and criminal past. Most likely he won’t even be an attorney when the show starts. He’ll be some guy either hiding from the law or from criminals and will decide to assume a new identify. In the show he’ll find an opportunity to take the bar exam, either a friend of his who went to law school was murdered, or something else. I’ll also predict a scene of Saul photoshopping his Samoa diploma.
I was worried that Saul Goodman’s prequel would boring. Now I’m looking forward to it.
Update: I was thinking that someone could argue that if Saul took a new identity and was hiding, why would he tell other people about it by revealing his real name? That’s actually quite easy, because the original threat is gone. If Saul went into hiding because some criminal madman was trying to kill him, once the madmen was killed himself, Saul no longer had a reason to hide. However, as a semi-successful attorney, he had a reason to continue the charade.
A recent Big Bang Theory points out that Indiana Jones was completely useless in the movie the Raiders of the Lost Ark. In a nutshell, if Indy had simply taken the month off, the Nazi’s would have obtained the Ark, opened it up, and would have been killed. In other words, even if he did nothing, the exact same ending would have occurred.
I’ve noticed a similar problem with the Terminator and Terminator 2. The only way Skynet’s plan to kill Sarah Connor could have worked is if the terminator failed.
Let me explain, if the terminator had killed Sarah, John Connor never would have been born. And in that case, a terminator never would have been sent back to kill her. And if the terminator was never sent back, Skynet could not have been invented because there would have been no advanced future-tech to base it on.
So Sarah was not a hero at all. All her actions led to Skynet being created and the robot war to occur. She should have simply allowed the terminator to kill her and the whole thing would have worked itself out in the long run.
Heck, merely by not sending back the terminator, Kyle Reese never would have been sent back, thus, John Connor never would have been conceived. Yes, the robots are the main reason John Connor exists. They should have just killed Kyle in their present and sent the future-tech back to Cyberdyne Systems in the past. But that would have been a much more boring movie: A solider from the future being sent back to the past to stop a robot also sent to the past from delivering a package. The Delivernator!
Apparently Wikipedia has a problem. Despite more and more people accessing it, fewer and fewer people are working as editors.
I can understand why. Every time I tried editing on Wikipedia, my work was ignored. I’m not talking about huge edits or entire articles I’ve written. I’ve got no time for that. I’m talking about minor but important changes. I’ve fixed grammatical errors or tightened up the writing to make it easier to read. I’ve also added citations where there were none. Wikipedia has a serious problem with participants who treat articles as being analogous to emails. They’re written and published without proofreading. The hard part of writing is not the writing. It’s the monotonous, but necessary rewriting.
But every time I’ve done that, every single time, within an hour the materials I fixed were back. Apparently the editors in charge want poorly written materials, complete with grammatical errors, and without citations to the supporting facts. I got tired of making such fixes, so I quit. I’m sure plenty of others have, too.